Sometime after its first decade deciding the NFL championship — and drawing more and more massive TV audiences — the Super Bowl turned community TV’s final lead-in. The recreation, which most of its life has been the only most watched program of the yr, has helped launch just a few long-running sequence and offered outsized spotlights for exhibits that had been already hits.
That gained’t be the case this yr, nevertheless. NBC will transfer from the Super Bowl to its primetime Winter Olympics protection on Sunday — marking the primary time in 30 years that one thing apart from an leisure program has adopted the sport.
The programming transfer stems partly from NBCUniversal’s need to have each the Olympics and the Super Bowl on its air (and its streaming service, Peacock) in the identical month — a lot in order that in 2019, NBC swapped spots with CBS within the traditional three-network Super Bowl rotation. NBC final had the published in 2018 (one other Winter Olympics yr) and would have been due up once more in 2021 after CBS and Fox aired the Super Bowl in 2019 and ’20. Instead, NBC switched locations with CBS with a purpose to double up with the Olympics.
The lengthening of the NFL season — the league added a 17th common season recreation this yr — additionally places the Super Bowl squarely in the course of the Olympics. NBC is foregoing its daytime Olympic broadcast Sunday for a five-hour Super Bowl pregame, however after the sport and trophy presentation to the successful group, the community will decide up dwell protection from Beijing for an hour or so, let associates break for native information after which provide up 90 extra minutes of Olympic occasions in late evening.
(It’s potential NBC would have adopted this technique even when the NFL had caught with a 16-game season, which might have put the Super Bowl on Feb. 6 — nonetheless three days into the Olympics.)
Sunday would be the first time since 1992 that an leisure program hasn’t adopted the Super Bowl. Following Super Bowl XXVI that yr, CBS aired an abbreviated model of 60 Minutes that consisted of an interview with then presidential candidate Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton — a phase that got here collectively on the final minute and during which the couple addressed allegations that he had an extramarital affair.
The interview and a 48 Hours installment that crammed out the remainder of the night averaged 24.eight million viewers for CBS. A yr later, NBC debuted Homicide: Life on the Street, beginning a 29-year run during which an leisure present acquired the showcase spot.
Following the Super Bowl with one other sports activities telecast hasn’t occurred in 46 years. For its first decade, the Super Bowl was a day recreation, beginning no later than 4:15 p.m. ET. Twice in that point — in 1971 on NBC and in 1976 on CBS — the networks went from the sport to protection of a golf match, which crammed the time between the tip of the sport and primetime. The recreation moved into primetime in 1977, and all however three Super Bowls since then have been adopted by leisure programming. The three exceptions are all editions of 60 Minutes, in 1980, 1982 and 1992.
NBC has obligations to indicate the Olympics in primetime, which is undoubtedly the largest driver of the scheduling choice. But it’s unlikely even when the community did put an episode of, say, Chicago Fire or This Is Us after the sport that it could have a lot lasting impact on scores.
It’s been a decade since any post-Super Bowl present had any sustained ratings momentum from airing after the sport. When season two of The Voice premiered in 2012, it drew a sequence excessive 37.6 million viewers and saved forward of its season one common in adults 18-49 for eight weeks. Since then, nevertheless, each present to get the slot returned to its traditional degree proper after, and two of the three sequence debuts (24: Legacy in 2017 and The World’s Best in 2019) had been canceled after their first seasons.
Whether an enormous viewers sticks round after soccer to observe bobsled and ice dancing stays to be seen. But even when individuals do hold watching Sunday, it’s unlikely to have a halo impact on the remainder of the Olympics.